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CB 7 discusses new tennis stadium with USTA officials

Charles Jettmar, USTA's director of capital projects, points at a photograph of the area near Arthur Ashe Stadium where the new Stadium 17 is being built. Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
By Connor Adams Sheets

The United States Tennis Association brought its plans for a new tennis stadium at its sprawling site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to Community Board 7 Tuesday evening.

Stadium 17, which is currently under construction, will replace two smaller stadiums with a 3,000-seat venue designed to match the organization’s existing facilities and keep a low profile in order to respect the current aesthetics of the park.

The low-lying stadium, which at only 20 to 25 feet tall will be dwarfed by the towering, 23,700-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium a stone’s throw away, will benefit from a court sunk 7 feet in the ground, allowing it to accommodate the fourth-most attendees of all the courts at Flushing Meadows.

“We don’t want a negative impact on the park by building a hulking structure or that sort of thing,” Charles Jettmar, director of capital projects of the USTA, told the board. “So you’ll see a low stadium that won’t be visible from around the park.”

The USTA, which is already doing construction on the $7 million project and not seeking approval from CB 7 for the work, was simply presenting the schematics of the finished project and discussing its details and impact with the board for informative purposes at the Tuesday meeting.

The association hopes to finish the stadium by January 2012 and for it to be ready for use in next year’s US Open. For this year’s US Open, which runs from late August to early September, the court will be ready for use, but the stadium structure will not be complete, so temporary bleachers will be provided for fans.

Despite the fact that CB 7 has no official authority to influence the USTA’s plans for the site or to otherwise compel the organization to take any action, board members raised a variety of concerns about its operations and the stadium itself.

Board member Nick Miglino said he was concerned about the increase in attendance the new stadium will likely bring, and the effects it may have on parking in Flushing Meadows. He added that he disapproves of the USTA’s policy of allowing some employees to park on the grass in the park and that he would like the organization to do something to better handle its parking situation.

“Parking on the grass is unacceptable,” Miglino said.

Jettmar said the USTA will not be increasing parking capacity anytime soon because of lack of space, but pointed out that any grass that is disturbed by cars will be reseeded after the US Open concludes.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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